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Teach 3D Game Design in One Week (B323)

[Explore and create : BYOD]

Tuesday, June 28, 2:15–3:15 pm
CCC Mile High Ballroom 2B

favoritesDr. Alexander Repenning  
How can you introduce 3D game design if you have no programming background and only one week to succeed? Find out during this hands-on session.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, PC, Mac
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Assuming that internet is provided you can use AgentCubes Online. Please use Google Chrome browser for best results.
Create an account - it is free

All modern browsers will work but they need to be fully HTML5 compliant including the ability to run WebGL (for 3D content). Windows, Mac and Linux laptops will work. Games can be played on mobile browsers including phones and tablets but the workshop requires laptops and NOT iPads.

To fully participate in the workshop DO NOT USE AN IPAD.

Backup options: Should the ISTE Wi-Fi collapse you would be best of to have the AgentCubes desktop software installed (Windows and Mac only):

Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Programming and robotics
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Computer science
ISTE Standards: Students : Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
Teachers : Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
Coaches : Professional development and program evaluation
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation, ISTE Professional Learning Network pick, Global Collaboration strand session

Digital tote resources

Description: Beyond Minecraft Facilitating Computational Thinking through Modeling and Progra
Description: Making Programming Accessible and Exciting
Description: The overview paper of Scalable Game Design
Description: Presentation URL
Description: AgentCubes online lesson plans: games: Frogger, Pac-Man and STEM simulations

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of the highly successful Scalable Game Design curriculum ( is to get computer science into public schools by motivating and educating all students to learn about computer science and STEM topics through game design starting at the middle school level. Funded by the National Science Foundation a strategy has been developed and evaluated to train teachers in a short amount of time to teach computational thinking to students through game and simulation design in a way that broadens participation across gender and ethnicities. Over 80% of schools that have started Scalable Game Design advance beyond the basic training to sophisticated game and simulation projects.

Participants learn to:
- create a simple 3D Frogger-like game
- make 3D shapes and 3D worlds by drawing simple 2D shapes and inflating them
- bring objects to live by using simple drag and drop programming
- employ ISTE NETS aligned resources to create more sophisticated games featuring advanced artificial intelligence.
- teach a game design activity in 5 x 45 minutes lessons
- use computational thinking pattern to teach computational thinking in a way that skills can be transferred from game design to STEM simulation building consistent with Next Generation Science Standards.

The tool used, AgentCubes online, is a revolutionary web-based 3D computational thinking tool created by the original pioneers of drag and drop programming at the University of Colorado. AgentCubes goes beyond drag and drop programming by harnessing the power of the computer to support the creation of working programs (conversational programming). The Inflatable-Icon technology built into AgentCubes allows end-users with no 3D authoring background to create their own 3D shapes. Games built can run on mobile devices including smart phones. AgentCubes online includes sophisticated 2D/3D scientific visualization and interfaces to 3rd party tools such as spreadsheets to support STEM activities (e.g., NGSS).


• Introduction to the Scalable Game Design project: moving beyond the perception that “programming is hard and boring” (10 minutes).

° Starting the 3D Frogger game design activity: participants will have created and programmed a Frog that can cross a highway. Participants receive a link to their project including instructions to finish game after the workshop (40 minutes).

• Presentation of resources to teach more complex games and STEM simulations (10 minutes).

Supporting research

Scalable Game Design including computational thinking tools employed (AgentSheets/AgentCubes) has been supported with ~$20M by the National Science Foundation, Google, the National Institutes of Health and many other agencies in the US, Brazil, Switzerland and Mexico.

Project site with references:

Evidence of relevance:

- academic publications, e.g., Repenning, A., Webb, D. C., Koh, K. H., Nickerson H., Miller, S. B., Brand, C., et al., "Scalable Game Design: A Strategy to Bring Systemic Computer Science Education to Schools through Game Design and Simulation Creation," Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), vol. 15, pp. 1-31, 2015. (more publications:

- popular press, e.g., WIRED:

- videos, e.g., high production video made by Google as part of the 2015 Google RISE program: (more videos:

- TV, e.g. FOX31:

AgentSheets research showcased in government reports, e.g., Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge. A 21st Century Agenda for the National Science Foundation, June 2008.



favorites Dr. Alexander Repenning, University of Colorado

Dr. Alexander Repenning is a computer science professor at the University of Colorado. He is the director of the Scalable Game Design project exploring how to bring game design based computer science education into public schools. Repenning is the creator of the AgentSheets and AgentCubes (3D) computational thinking tools. He offers game design workshops in the USA, Europe and Japan and advises the National Academy of Sciences, the European Commission, and the National Science Foundation.